If I Were a Democrat… May 11, 2012

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Politics may be the quickest way to remove purity and passion from any aspiration. Once we require a majority to proceed, we oust intelligence and creativity out the door.

My opinion.

Yet– in the spirit of MSNBC and Fox News, to present all things “fair and balanced,” since I have given time to ruminate on what I would do if I were a Republican, I will now tell you what I would do as a Democrat. (Once again, as in the case of the Republicans, I am not a member of the donkey cult…)

1. If I were a Democrat, since I do have a social agenda, it would be a good idea to stop apologizing for it.  Many of the successful projects of the twentieth century were achieved by people who had a social agenda, discovering an injustice and exposing it, much to the chagrin of those who preferred the status quo. If government does not have a social conscience that produces some sort of agenda, we will constantly be burdened with a sense of inequity which has to be explained away by erroneous research. For instance, I grew up believing that black people were good in sports, Asians were the crack aces at math, American Indians knew the best way to climb rocks and Hispanics, generally speaking, should always be hired for your gardening. It seemed innocent at the time. Of course, we now know that all of that is racist. Without a social agenda, we are delinquent in arriving at good conclusions.

2. Governing should be an issue of equality or legality. When you remove preference, emotion, bigotry, religiosity and politics from governing a nation like the United States, you are left with two criteria:  (A) Is it legal? If the answer to that is yes, then  (B) it should be equally distributed amongst the populous. Otherwise we end up with inequity and prejudice. If it is deemed to be illegal, then inequality is acceptable because the particular activity has been judged by the general public  to be detrimental to the community. Do you see? In other words, if you believe that abortion is not only immoral, but should be illegal, then work to pass a law in that direction instead of trying to make it more difficult for CERTAIN groups to have this opportunity over others. That’s un-American. If it is your contention that homosexuality is both immoral and of great danger to our society, then pass a law to return sodomy to the books, making it illegal. Therefore, inequality is acceptable because the action is against the law. Case in point: we determined that cigarettes cause cancer and second-hand smoke is dangerous. So laws were passed. We levy upon smokers an atmosphere of inequality by forbidding them to smoke in public places and charging heavy taxes onto their habit. It is righteous, because of the illegalities and unnaturalness of the activity. But on the other hand, if I were a Democrat, I would point out that if you are NOT willing to make abortion and homosexuality illegal, then according to our Constitution, equality for all American citizens must be the same. If it’s illegal, it can be unequal. But if it’s legal, then equality needs to be given to everyone.

3. If I were a Democrat, I would make sure that the country understands that we need to have a world view. Isolationism is what gets us into wars. I would ask the following questions: is there a chance that by understanding more about Islam we could address terrorism more effectively? Would having some empathy for the European banking crisis help us prevent some of the same problems in our own country? Would it be beneficial for us to understand the mind-set of the Chinese people? The way we handle countries like Iran, Pakistan, China and even Russia reminds me of a man who thinks he can pet his neighbor’s pit bull because they live on the same street. The pit bull will bite you, because you do not have any familiarity with it. If I were a Democrat, I would make it clear that this is a world we live in and not just a country.

4. If I were a Democrat, I would extol the virtues of ALL energy. I think we should go ahead and use coal–as cleanly as possible–and oil, as long as we are also aware that we are going to run out of these things. It reminds me of how I handle my sugar-free popsicles. I use them as snacks, late at night. So the first couple of days after I purchase them, I lavish myself with blessing by eating many. But by the end of the week, looking in my box and realizing they are depleting, I slow up my consumption, yet without forbidding benefit completely. The same is true with coal and oil. And we should find a way to use nuclear energy–and what would be the harm of harnessing the wind? It is ridiculous to think that this country is going to go “green.” If I were a Democrat, I would just suggest light brown–a combination of green and the nearly black of coal and oil.

5. If I were a Democrat, I would talk about spirituality instead of religion. There is perhaps no other subject in the world that has as little resolution than discussing theology, God and the practice of worship. Yet–spirituality is an intricate part of every human being. It unleashes both mercy and really, the willingness to pursue new ideas. As you may know, this year I have summed up spirituality into one sentence: NoOne is better than anyone else. If I were a Democrat, I would make that my thesis for faith.

So there you go. That’s what I would do if I were a Democrat. Rather than trying to make my position sound as Republican as possible, I would take the essence of government and the practice of making laws and insert as much humanity as feasible in order to achieve equality.

That’s it. They call Democrats donkeys because supposedly the animal is quite stubborn and has a big kick. But if the Democrats really want to be stubborn about something, they should start with staying faithful to their own pursuits. And if they want to place a “big kick” into society, they should extol the virtue of Lincoln’s expression–a government of the people, for the people, and by the people.

Two days in a row I have given you what I would do–if I were a Republican and if I were a Democrat. But since I am actually apolitical, let me tell you tomorrow how I choose to approach the issues of our time.

  

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Even Stephen … May 7, 2012

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Possibly one of the most arduous treks across this great country would be the stretch of miles along I-20 between Dallas, Texas and El Paso. Historically I have chosen to make this journey at night to avoid the heat and glare of the day. One time as I sojourned on this particular piece of real estate, I saw lights in the distance. I was approaching the small city of Odessa, and as the brightness grew in size, I assumed it WAS Odessa. But as I came closer, I saw that it was an edifice, the size of a city itself–actually invoking a sense of awe, which grew in intensity as I came closer. For me, it merged the sensations of Christmas, Las Vegas and the Beverly Hillbillies–for it was an oil rig. The largest one I had ever seen. 

Black gold.

Texas tea. 

Suddenly my nostrils were assailed by the burn of that unique, pungent odor — and it smelled GOOD. Now, there may be folks who would disagree with me, but I like the smell of fresh oil being pumped from the earth–the very energy of both power and also of prosperity. It was a visceral moment on a very long, dark journey.

I had a similar sensation yesterday doing two performances at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church of the Valley in Palmdale, California. As I shared, I literally witnessed minds opening–like lubricating the gears on a bicycle with oil. For truly the main problem I have with traditional religion is that the inevitable result of repetition is the literal numbing of  people’s minds.Once-meaningful liturgy, through repetition, becomes mindless drone.

I would like to encourage churches everywhere to make two simple changes in the format of the church service: to replace one liturgical recitation with a moment of personal testimony from a parishoner, and during the passing of the peace, instead of offering one another a “peace be with you,” instead offer the exhortation: “Be of good cheer!”

Because just as repetition produces rusty mental gears, the sharing of personal experiences generates the oil of gladness. After all, Jesus said that in the world we WILL have tribulation. Our only job is to “be of good cheer.” That’s it. We don’t have to solve every problem today–and his job was to overcome the world. We don’t have to do that, either. We only have to understand that our place in the great scheme of things is to avoid repetition, share personal experiences and receive the good cheer that results.

Yesterday, as I witnessed lubricated gears beginning to move and saw the resulting good cheer, I saw that there is another, final culmination in the process–the oil of healing. Yes, mental freshness produces good cheer, which fosters the environment for healing–be it depression or terminal cancer.

Similar to the awe I sensed as I drove past the Odessa oil rig, with its power and energy, I felt the same wonder yesterday at St. Stephen’s Lutheran, viewing–and feeling myself–the energy of the oil of lubrication, the radiation of the good cheer and the power of healing oil passed among my brothers and sisters and back to me.

We try to make it hard. We talk about “contemporary” and “traditional.” But it is really just giving good people a chance to lubricate their rusty gears and then feel the oil of gladness and healing. After all, like the Tin Man, we all need a good oiling now and then.

Why not take the steps to make it happen?

  

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

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